West Indies launched their World Cup 2019 campaign in style, decimating Pakistan in all three departments to register a famous seven-wicket win at Trent Bridge in Nottingham. After opting to bowl on Friday, Windies produced a superlative performance with the ball and reduced Pakistan for mere 105 runs. The Caribbean side came out with a set plan and executed it with perfection. The short-ball tactic against Pakistan succeeded in taking out eight of the ten wickets with the balls directed at the body. Though the most expensive of them all, skipper Jason Holder and Oshane Thomas shared seven wickets between them, while Andre Russell registered two wickets, giving away mere four runs.
It was the final duo of Wahab Riaz and Mohammad Amir who took the score past the three-figure mark. Opener Fakhar Zaman and Babar Azam top scored with 22 while rest was all ruins. The Caribbeans’ five-pronged pace attack was too much for the Pakistan side to handle.
Imam-ul-Haq was the first causality, bitterly disappointed with himself after he gloved a short ball down the leg-side to Shai Hope behind the stumps. The team had barely moved on from the early strike when Andre Russell put a premature end to Fakhar Zaman's fireworks too, in his very first over. The Pakistan opener was undone by a bouncer he shaped up to pull, only for the ball to hit his helmet grille and roll back on to disturb the furniture. Before ending his three-over opening spell, Russell bounced out Haris Sohail too, leaving Pakistan reeling at 45 for 3 at the end of ten overs.
Mohammad Hafeez along with Sarfaraz Ahmed tried to build some sort of partnership but didn’t manage to add much to the scoreboard. Hafeez played on the rise and led everyone to witness some sensational display of hand-eye coordination but couldn't afford to cut loose with West Indies pacers striking at regular intervals at the other end.
Skipper returned to the attack and struck gold, twice. Hope took the caught-behind appeal against Sarfraz Ahmed upstairs immediately after being turned down and was vindicated as the replays revealed a faint nick off the batsman's gloves as the Pakistan skipper looked to glance the short delivery down the leg side.
The pressure kept looming on the men-in-green which eventually put them on the back foot, and kept them out of the game. The wickets kept tumbling for Pakistan, and they finished for a below-par total, which also turned out to be their second-lowest total in World Cup.
Chasing 105, Windies management sent their regular openers Chris Gayle and Shai Hope. The duo saw the initials overs before going after the opposition bowlers. Chris Gayle was the first to open his arms, and his counter-part Shai Hope emulated him.
The partnership continued for 36 runs before Shai Hope was sent back to the pavilion by Pakistan’s experienced campaigner Mohammad Amir. He bowled a short of length delivery just outside off and Hope went for an aerial punch through the off-side. He was taken aback by the extra bounce and the ball ballooned up off the top part of the bat. Hafeez kept his eyes on the ball and completed the catch with ease.
His departure led Darren Bravo to the crease, who didn’t trouble the scorers. However, Pooran along with set Chris Gayle strung a crucial partnership of 31 runs. In this process, the latter scored his 52nd fifty. His innings was laced with six boundaries and three mighty sixes.
Once Gayle was dismissed in 11th over, and Windies already saw themselves at 77 runs. With just 29 runs to score in 39 overs, Pooran and Hetmyer played with responsibility to help Windies start their World Cup campaign on high.